Lessons from Fallujah

Every war, every battle, every fight, every little skirmish is different from every other. But there are parallels and lessons to be learned from every one. And every battle sees acts of heroism, fighting skill, determination, and cool thinking under fire that are worthy of honor and worth remembering. The examples our military set for us are examples to inspire us. Not just to honor (which we should), but to try to live up to.

The Second Battle of Fallujah is one of those moments in history. As I write this, it is the fourth of July, 2019. We have come a long way from the day two hundred and forty-four years ago when colonial citizens, businessmen, frontiersmen, and farmers “fired the shot heard round the world”. I think those first citizens of a nation about to be born would have been in absolute awe of the incredible, massive, extremely capable war fighting ability of their nation 244 years later.

The “first battle of Fallujah” was turned into a waste, by politicians apparently. Four Blackwater security contractors were “murdered, mutilated, and strung up from a bridge” in Fallujah. The Marines started to straighten things out, politicians and timidity interfered, and it ended with the locals being told, “Keep the insurgents out of Fallujah and we will leave you alone.” Which was stupid on steroids.

Pulling out with the job half done is never a good beginning. One result of that false start may have been to give Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the killer of Nicholas Berg, and other terrorist leaders, a chance to run away.

That was the “first battle of Fallujah”. The second time around it was done right. The National Geographic video at the link just above describes very briefly how the second battle was conducted. National Geographic apparently is anti-American, since they describe that video thus: “Examine how the U.S. military’s subsequent attempts to destroy the insurgency in Fallujah resulted in increasing chaos.”

No kidding. War is chaos. Battles never result in greater order. The “order” imposed by the enemy on Fallujah was so vicious, so barbaric, that it resulted in every tribal leader in the region deciding to ally themselves with the American forces, but apparently National Geo was not aware of that. Suuuure they weren’t.

Ex-Marine Don Baker describes the philosophy also: “November then came, and the Marines were sent in again to liberate the city and eliminate the enemy from of every inch of it.” Which entailed five of Baker’s machine gun squad getting killed in their initial engagement by mortar fire. The enemy had been warned by the first half-way battle and had been given enough time to prepare a very effective defense. Well, sort of effective … after 4 days, 18 Americans KIA and 600 enemy KIA. Eventually about a thousand dead enemy.

The second time it was done right – with “overwhelming force” (0:27 – 0:46 same source). A night attack with 10,000 troops. Disrupt enemy Command and Control. Every building either searched or leveled to the ground.

It still took six days, from Nov. 8th – Nov. 13th. Thirty thousand houses, and every one had to be cleared.

The history of Fallujah since then has more very important lessons for us, but those are for another time. What the Second Battle Of Fallujah teaches us is that when allowed to employ overwhelming firepower and thorough follow-through, the US Marines can make amazing changes in history in a very short time!

The noise, dust, and confusion of war in Iraq, 3:39:

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                                             God bless our troops and keep them safe.

 

 

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